תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

ye enter not into temptation, you would imagine that the whole armour of God is already laid over you. I cannot conceive anything more dangerous, more injurious to our progress in well-doing, than the supposition that we have only to believe our salvation is wrought out, to be accepted of the Almighty. Blessed be Heaven, the means of so glorious an event are wholly completed, in that affecting hour when the Redeemer uttered these solemn words, it is finished; but it depends upon ourselves whetber or not we benefit therefrom. We dare not expect a miracle performed in our favour; as the tree falls, so will it lie; as death meets us, judgment will find us."

Minna. “ But will you deny that Jesus is our wisdom, our righteousness, that he has put away sin, and become a light to our feet ?”

Mr. M. “ He is wisdom to the meek and humble in spirit, who are willing to receive his word as their guide; he has been made of God righteousness, but only to those who obey his injunctions, and devote themselves to his service; he has indeed put away sin, but only to those who will be rescued from its shameful dominion; and be became a light to the feet of them who are disposed to walk in his paths."

Charles. “Remember, my dear cousin, that the whole of the Saviour's life was one of activity and usefulness. Faith was likewise constantly and strongly inculcated; but never to the exclusion of practical virtue. All his teachings were replete with the purest morality, and the longest sermon be ever delivered, was fraught with these beautiful lessons of wisdom."

Alice. “. And herein,' says he, is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye

be my disciples; if ye

love me, keep my commandments, and by this shall all men know ye are my friends, if ye have love one to another.''

Minna (impatiently). “Miss Mordaunt, you are perpetually quoting to me those texts, as if there were none other in the whole Bible; how often must I repeat, that we cannot keep the commandments, and that it is Jesus who keeps them for us.”

They could hardly refrain from smiling at such a reply. At length, her father asked, how she could allow herself to indulge in such a perversion of truth? adding, “Would Christ, in his own simple and impressive language, have required his followers to take his yoke upon them, and learn of him, had he known their inability to comply with the demand? would he have left us an example that we should follow his steps, if, from our nature, we were unqualified to do so? Impossible! You do not discriminate rightly, my dear. Faith we must first

possess,

and good works, as a natural consequence, will follow; they are the only test and criterion of our entire credence in God's word; in no other way can we evince our love to the Great Father of all; and the purer and stronger our belief, the more active will be our charity, the more unwearied our exertions in labours of usefulness.”

Charles. “You recollect, Minna, that when Paul was converted to Christianity, and the light of the glorious Gospel was spread abroad on his heart, he counted not that he had already attained, but, satisfied that far more was requisite than a mere assent of the understanding, he was strenuous to add to his faith virtue, and forgetting those things which were behind, he pressed forth unto those which were before, nor rested till he had reached toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. But I would not,” continued he, “be misunderstood; of ourselves, in one sense, we can do nothing: we must ask if we would receive, and if we receive not, it is because we have asked amiss.” “Oh, yes,” said Alice, feelingly, “we are poor, weak, sinful creatures, and cannot be too sensible of our dependence upon our Creator; but our feeblest efforts to serve him, I know he will approve of. If we cannot perform the act, he will accept of the intention; and we have only to seek his Spirit's aid if we would be holy."

Minna. “I never knew better theorists, Alice, than you and Charles; however, it is one thing to declaim, and another to feel. You are completely ignorant of the various windings of the human heart; you know not the secret workings of pride and self-righteousness there. You forget the artifices of Satan, or you would discover in that enthusiasm, for what at most is but rags, scheme of the Evil One to keep you from Christ.' Oh,

a

if you felt as the people of God feel !—ay, you need not smile both of you; but what else can be expected from persons in your condition," and a tear, partly of mortified vanity, and a real anxiety for good, glittered in her eye, and stopped for a moment the current of her ideas. “I was about to say,” she added, after a pause of short duration, “ that if you each felt as you ought, you would associate more with God's people than you do; you would rejoice in availing yourselves of every opportunity whereby you might hear the word preached according to knowledge; in sermons, you would seek for pure evangelical truth, rather than eloquence and talent; you would indulge less in worldly conversation; more of your

time would be given to meditation and prayer; and you, Alice, instead of wasting your voice on songs which can yield neither profit nor pleasure, would employ it in singing the praises of your Maker.”

Alice. “But I couldn't pray and sing psalms the whole day; I should then neglect my worldly duties.”

Minna. “ And what has a Christian to do with the latter? Oh, if you but knew the Rosemores! I have seen them in the midst of their occupations, often half-adozen times a day, fall down on their knees; and did any of their acquaintances chance to call when thus engaged, they were invited to enter and join in the service. No subject, excepting religion, ever passed their lips; there was no carelessness, no ukewarmness about them."

Mr. M. “Let me persuade you, my dear child, that devotion is not the whole of religion.'

Love to our neighbour constitutes as truly a part of both as love to God; if ye love not your brother, whom you

have seen, how can you love God, whom you have not seen? Neither ought we to confine it to the closet or the sanctuary; its nature is universal, and must be incorporated with every feeling and action of our lives.”

Charles. ". Though heavenly in her origin, her nature, and her destiny, religion is not so purely ethereal as to turn away from the scenes of this low diurnal sphere, as beneath her notice, and unworthy of her regard.' It must be carried into every transaction of life: and the duties of home, the amendment of our tempers, the improvement of our hearts, are as much a part of religion

66

as the observance of the Sabbath, or the performance of devotional exercises." Yes," returned Alice, “and for these important ends we must love God with all our heart, and soul, and strength; not that He can profit from our services, for He is infinitely happy in himself, but that we may derive advantage therefrom."

Minna. - That is the rock on which you split. You are always enlarging upon love to God, but how seldom do I hear you speak of love to Christ? Now, until you can contemplate him as your all, you are living in a state of darkness and error.”

Alice. “Under God, he is everythiug to us. We receive him as the glorious Messenger, whom the Almighty has given his creatures to bless and guide them on their way to immortality. When we reflect upon

his pure, his spotless, his sinless excellence—his self-denying virtue-his devotion to the cause of God and duty, and to the whole of the important ends for which he was ushered into being, we feel that it is utterly impossible to love him too strongly. In exact proportion as we love the Father, must we love the Son: the idea of the one is so closely associated with that of the other, that we cannot separate the two. When we think of the boundless mercy of the former, sending the latter to live, suffer, and die for us, we are overwhelmed with gratitude; and when we remember Christ's willingness to comply with the demand, the mind equally partakes of the same heavenly sentiment. Oh no," continued she, her whole countenance glowing with pious enthusiasm, "we shall never offend our Maker by reverencing that Being with whom he expressed himself well pleased. Where should we have been without him? I regard him as everything but the everlasting, unchangeable Jehovah."

Mr. M. “ Your opinions and feelings regarding the Redeemer, Alice, are beautifully just; and the fruit which springs from such a faith must, whatever others may aver to the contrary, be good and pleasing to God. I intend, Minna,” turning to his daughter, " at some future opportunity, to narrate to you a short history of two ladies, both Trinitarians, with whom I happened to be acquainted in early life. An incident which I shall mention of each, will perhaps convince you far better than argument, that faith without works is dead, being alone.”

Here Mr. Mornton was called away to speak to his steward; and Minna remarked, “ that nothing her papa could say of anybody would ever persuade her she was in error.”

Charles (feelingly). “Do not say so, -oh, do not say so, my dear cousin; a few short years since, and had any person even hinted at the possibility of your adopting your present sentiments, you would have smiled at the very idea of such a thing, and repelled the supposition with almost indignation. I recollect the period when my mind, too, was comparatively shrouded in mental darkness, and till it rested on the life-giving truths of Unitarianism, it never knew real peace; now, my hopes are anchored upon a rock which is sure and steadfast; on it I fearlessly, and with unbounded confidence, repose my all; I know in whom I believe, and feel persuaded that God will keep me until the great day.”

Were you, Mr. Herbert, ever a Trinitarian ?” asked Alice, with a look which seemed to add, “ Trinitarianism! oh, 'twas unworthy of a soul like yours.”

At Miss Mordaunt's request, Charles acquainted her with much relating to his religious experience, from the hour in which he first entered the house of bis uncle, till bis conversion to the Unitarian doctrine. “I date a great deal,” continued he, "of my spiritual improvement to the conversations I speak of. You, Minna, may probably remember them; poor Sophia was alive then." Although extremely young when she lost her sister, Minna cherished her memory with a sacred affection, and still, unknown to any, very often visited the spot which contained the remains of one so dear to her; but she seldom spoke of her, and now merely replied to her cousin's observation, “ that she had a confused recollection of some such conversations."

Charles (smiling). “Although only six years of age, you reasoned far better than you do now; but I do not give up the fond belief of yet seeing you all and more than you were before.” And Charles was the only one of her friends who did not despair of an event so longed

« הקודםהמשך »